I am not lost…

March 16, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: FINDING HOPE by Colleen Nelson

I received an ARC of this book free of charge through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

I don’t know when I picked this up, but I’ve had a fascination for books and characters whose lives are falling apart around them. Vices? Bring them on. Addiction? Love it. Abuse? Sure. I truly enjoy watching characters in those situations. (Because in fiction, no one actually gets hurt.) So seeing the blurb for FINDING HOPE was exciting. A brother struggling with addiction, a sister struggling with identity. It sounded right up my alley.

Hope suffers from classic small town syndrome: her brother Eric is an addict, he’s been kicked out of the house, and everyone knows it. As much as she loves her brother and wants to help him, she wants to have her own identity as well, away from him. When she’s accepted to Ravenhurst Academy, this seems like her perfect opportunity.

Meanwhile, Eric’s life is falling apart and he can’t bring himself to find a way to get himself back together, even when he wants to. Meth calls too strongly to him. But when Hope goes away to school, he needs to fend for himself without her help…and it gets harder than he imagined.

I’ve run into this trouble several times with YA books lately, where the plot is really interesting and there’s a lot of potential, but it seems to go by too quickly. I’m given just barely enough time to understand the characters before the story is over. Conflict doesn’t have enough time to simmer and build–except for the ongoing issue with Eric, which is difficult to attach to because Eric himself struggles to fight with it. He takes it as a piece of who he is, and each time he starts to think about changing, he uses again and sets himself back to zero.

The twist with Eric’s fate was interesting but not terribly surprising. Hope’s interactions at Ravenhurst were painfully predictable and, occasionally, utterly unbelievable. (Her “boyfriend” comes to mind.) I do appreciate the ending, since that’s not always guaranteed, and the characters were nicely written. I just wanted more, and something a little less predictable.

To be fair, the way Eric is written is very good. He truly looks like an addict and thinks like one. It’s easy to sugarcoat in YA and there was none of that, both with Eric’s addiction and the other girls at Ravenhurst. A refreshing change from what I’ve seen in other books.

Review: *** – Worth a Look

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